Roam, Sweet Roam: Establishing Legal Residency as a Full-timer

At Heggen Law Office, clients often come to us looking for information about the transition to a full-time RV lifestyle. In many instances, they are curious about where to establish legal residency now that they’ve committed to life on the road. More often than not, our trusted associates recommend three states—Florida, Texas, and South Dakota—as particularly great options for full-timers, but we also like to remind our clients to keep Montana in mind as they make their transition. While Florida, Texas, and South Dakota are easily the best choices for declaring legal residency, they are not always as optimal for registering and licensing the vehicles that make your lifestyle possible. On the other hand, by declaring legal residency in one of these states while registering your luxury and recreational vehicles in Montana through a Montana LLC, it’s possible to have your cake and eat it too.

Unfortunately, the US legal system has not quite caught up with the nomadic lifestyle and still operates on the default that its citizens are stationary, making the transition to full-time RV’ing a bit complicated. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the freedom of your RV while still fulfilling your legal obligations for residency. Rather, if you plan wisely, you’ll be able to enjoy both the freedom of the road and the freedom of a full wallet.

When transitioning to a full-time nomadic lifestyle, one of the most important steps each full-timer must take is choosing where to establish legal domicile. While ‘residency’ can be defined more casually by legal terms, a citizen’s legal ‘domicile’ is a specific combination of both residency as well as an intent to remain a resident. In other words, domicile is not merely proof of your place of residence, but also all of the various life chores (mail, voting, insurance, vehicle registration, taxes, etc.) that prove your established connection to that residence, i.e. your intent to remain. And while it is advisable to align as many of these details as possible in order to stay within the parameters of our stationary system, your full-time status also gives you a unique opportunity to re-organize your life for maximum return.

It’s no secret that in the last few years, Florida, Texas, and South Dakota have all made big names for themselves within the full-timing community. This is largely due to their lack of state income tax and general friendliness to the vagabond lifestyle. For instance, each state offers reliable mail forwarding services designed for full-timers seeking a legal state address. Florida has welcomed its fair share of not only retirees, but also full-timers thanks to its warm climate as well as a number of choices for health insurance. In Texas, voting can easily be completed by mail. On the other hand, South Dakota has kept its sales taxes reasonably low and its policies particularly nomad-friendly.

In effect, each of these three states is convenient for proving both your residency as well as your intent to remain, making all of them desirable options for full-timers, but less convenient when it comes to purchasing and registering your full-time vehicles. While each of these states is a great choice for a full-timer’s legal domicile, they also enforce pricey sales taxes, registration fees, and tedious vehicle inspections; fees that often add up to a large chunk of a full-timer’s built-in expenses.

Thankfully, there’s an easy alternative.

Unlike Florida, Texas, and South Dakota, whose sales taxes range from 8% (TX) to 4% (SD), Montana is one of the few remaining sales tax free states. A Montana vehicle registration not only allows you to avoid sales tax on the pricey vehicles that make your lifestyle possible, but also those pesky annual inspections and high licensing fees required by other states. Thanks to Montana’s unusually confidential LLC policies and notoriously quirky vehicle registration process, the state is especially friendly to both full-timers and those simply looking to protect their assets.

Over the years, nonresidents have easily benefitted from Montana’s laws by filing and transferring their vehicle to an established Montana LLC, thereby transferring their vehicles’ ownership (and risk) to that LLC (you can read more about the benefits of a Montana LLC here). After establishing an LLC, full-timers can register as many of their vehicles to the state of Montana as they choose, avoiding Florida, Texas, and South Dakota’s more exhaustive and expensive requirements. In doing so, full-timers can not only enjoy the benefit of un-taxed income by their new home-state, but also a secure and tax free Montana vehicle registration. Check out our blog and FAQ’s page for more information about Montana’s tax free vehicle registration.

When choosing to RV full-time, having your odds and ends organized cohesively according to your legal domicile can make annoyances such as insurance or legal trouble much easier to work out. So if you do plan to benefit from a sales tax free Montana vehicle registration as a Florida resident, call our office to ensure that the process is done legally and securely by a professional attorney. With our help, there’s no reason to not enjoy the time and cost saving benefits of a Montana vehicle registration even as a resident of an income tax free state.

As a full-timer, you have many options, not only of where you’ll live for the foreseeable future, but also of where you’ll establish yourself now that you’re on the road. Call our office today for a free consultation with our trusted advisors if you think that a Montana vehicle registration is a good option for you.